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Upgrades

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Who doesn’t love an upgrade?

For whatever reason you may face, at some point you are likely to upgrade your photography gear. Be it because you obsess about having the latest and greatest gear or because you simply need a tool to do a specific job. The feeling of actually purchasing new equipment is a good one. I am not one to do these things on an impulse. I agonise over the decision to part with hard earned cash for inanimate objects, not matter how fancy they might be. I am going to walk you through some of my latest purchases from earlier this year and the reasons for me acquiring them.

MacBook Pro 13″

For years now I have been wanting to be able to edit photos whilst away from home. In fact ever since I started travelling for photography I have loathed the idea of waiting to get back home and edit. I would sit quietly sipping beer in the hotel whilst my friends sat and edited photos shot that day. I would grow envious and started wishing the rest of the trip away so that I could post a picture. This established enough of a need for me to want to get a laptop. Coupled with the fact that my PC at home really was on it’s last legs.

At the time, I wasn’t bothered what camp I would fall into, PC or Mac, I don’t buy into brand loyalty or fan-boyism. I use PC’s for work, always have. I genuinely couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I wanted so I treated each day as if I was buying a Windows laptop and then next day as if I was buying a MacBook. Flipping a coin if you will.

It was through this small mind game that I eventually made my decision to get a 13″ MacBook Pro though. I just felt excited about owning a MacBook.

I was never really satisfied with the build quality of Windows laptops. They were generally speaking cheaper and I felt that reflected in the build quality. Not much to criticise but considering I will be owning this for a few years, I couldn’t have a squeaking, flexing chassis to work on. As an ex-engineer, this was a big no no for me.

3 years it took me to make up my mind and genuinely couldn’t be happier. I opted to go for the non touch bar and specced up the RAM and CPU to 16Gb and an i7.

Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM

Until recently, my longest lens was the Canon 135mm f/2 L. Although a stunning lens, it really wasn’t too short for Motorsport photography. I was lucky enough to have some long term reviews of Canon’s 300mm lenses. I did a review for Cafetography on youtube. I simply did not have the budget for the big 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM for realistically I was looking at the 300mm f/4 L IS USM.

Not only did this save a great deal of money but it also saved my back from carrying it around all weekend. This is the lens that I use 90% of the time when at the track. Sure a zoom lens would be more versatile but I have always preferred to shoot with primes. It’s just down to personal preference.

When a good friend mentioned that he was selling his 300mm f/4 L I pretty much snapped off his arm in buying it off of him. 300mm fits nicely into my lens collection (35mm – 50mm – 135mm) giving me enough focal ranges to cover 90% of what I need. The only gap was something wider which brings us on to my next acquisition.

Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

If your memory lasts more than a sentence then there was a weak spot in my current arsenal. I needed a wide angle. I found when shooting a lot of car interiors both for Fueltopia and work that the 35mm wasn’t quite wide enough to get all that I wanted in. I also wanted something that could capture more of the environment and could be used for landscape photography. When I shot the cover image for this article I borrowed my friends Canon 16 – 35 mm f/2.8L III USM lens. A stunning lens, huge versatility and insanely wide at 16mm.

It was just a bit much of a stretch for me. I prefer longer focal lengths and didn’t really fancy dropping a huge amount of money on a lens that I knew I wouldn’t use all that much. The Canon17-40 mm f/4.0 L USM was also considered. Offering much the same in terms of focal range albeit with a slower aperture. I have used the 17-40L many times before but I never really loved it. I didn’t really fancy having a lens that had a maximum aperture of f/4 either as I would often be shooting handheld in low light. Image stabilisation was something that I convinced myself that I needed for some arbitrary reason.

Thoughts moved towards the Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS USM. I began watching second hand sites like a hawk. Pricing was pretty competitive and when one came up for a price that I was happy with, I jumped at it. Oh and it also came with the £50 lens hood which is a bonus.

 

For now, that is all the gear I need. Well, until I convince myself otherwise.

SHOOTINGDAVE

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Hard Drive Failure

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What’s the worst that can happen to a photographer?

Top of that list has to be hard drive failure. This happened to me, losing around 60% of everything I have shot over the years.

There was no warning, no hints, just one day when I turned on my PC it would not recognise the drive. It was one of those stomach chilling, nausea inducing moments. Rather than panic, I asked a few friends for advice and they took me through some steps to see if the drive could be read. I am not that competent when it comes computers so when I ran out of talent, I took the hard drive to work.

Fortunately they had some pretty decent software that would scan the drive. It took 6 days to find data on the 1TB drive and then a further 2 weeks to recover it. I went through a raft of emotions during this time trying to come to terms with the fact that I might well lose everything. I started to hunt around for a replacement drive and then a back service of some sort. I opted to go for a Western Digital My Cloud service and a Western Digital Passport. This way I can work on the Passport at home or at work and then back up to My Cloud when I am done. The “My Cloud” allows me to access the storage over the internet or through an app which makes life easier when sending last minute things to a client.

Naturally I felt awful at the fact that I had lost so many images. Frustration soon boiled over into anger which then melted away into despair and regret. I had heard this story numerous times before, it even happened to many of friends. I had no idea when I decided to ignore the warning signs. Ultimately my old external drive gave up the ghost. I guess it had been written to and read from too many times over the year.

For now this is the setup I will use, I will however change my Western Digital Passport each year once they have been fully backed up. This way I will have one physical copy and one virtual/physical copy. I would ideally like a third backup just to be safe. I am looking at Amazon Prime Photo, it just has terrible upload speeds at the moment. What backup storage systems do you use?

SHOOTINGDAVE

 

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Postcards from Sweden & Norway

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Well, this blogging thing hasn’t exactly gone as planned this year, this in fact my first post of 2017.

So for those of you who have stuck around, I appreciate it and I will try and get as much content out as I can. I will explain more about the absence later on. For now, here are some postcards from my trip to Norway and Sweden in late January of this year.

There is an event called Gatebil which I visit every year in Norway, you can read about it here, and here. This is a summer event held in both Norway and Sweden over a couple of months. They also hold an event in the winter called “Gatebil on Ice” which takes place, as you might have guessed, on ice. A frozen lake to accurate. Ever since I have heard about it I have always wanted to go and finally this was going to be my year to go, or so I thought. One week out from the event they cancelled due to lack of sufficient snow fall. With flights all booked and too short of a notice to cancel the AirB’n’B we couldn’t cancel the trip. Disappointment hit but we decided not to lose money but to take it up as a many break. Sadly my better half Amy couldn’t make it as she wasn’t booked on the original trip and flight prices were too much to afford at that time of year. SO this would be a trip with me and a few other photographer friends. We were staying in a picturesque wooden lodge in Bograngen near the Norwegian boarder which was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Perfect, well almost, I didn’t have Amy with me.

So here are the pictures, the one with the parting in the trees is the Norwegian/Sweden boarder, I love how they show the divide. The picture above is one of the few clear nights we had above our lodge. The reason for there being so few pictures is that I had lost my about 60% of my files when my hard drive failed. I will get into that in another blog.

Postcards from Kefalonia
Postcards from Scotland
Postcards from Amsterdam
Postcards from LA
Postcards from Salou
Postcards from New York
Postcards from New York II

SHOOTINGDAVE

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Published Work – Gatebil Magazine

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2016 has been a year of polar opposites, work wise I have been incredibly busy, photographically I have been very quiet. I have shot much less but what I have shot has gone much further. Because I have been shooting for clients and not myself a lot of my work has remained on hard drives until they have been published. In July I attended an event called GATEBIL at Rudskogen Motorsenter in Norway. If that name rings a bell, it is because I went last year which you can see here. This is hands down my favourite motorsport event I have ever had the pleasure of attending and this year I got the extreme honour of shooting for their own magazine, predictably called GATEBIL MAGAZINE. I was tasked to shoot several feature cars, one of which is this super rare, Steatlh B7 which is one of one! What I didn’t know until this month was that I made the front cover. And I don’t mean I got a small picture on the front cover…I GOT THE MAIN IMAGE! Thanks guys! Anyway, here is a few images that didn’t make the cut. Thanks to Jan Øivind Ruud and Team RR for being so helpful during the shoot and thanks to Kaj Alver for getting me the gig.

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SHOOTINGDAVE

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Published Work – Ace Cafe Year Book

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From an automotive photography point of view, this year has been pretty quiet for me. The amount of posts I have put up on Fueltopia has been laughable, the reason for this is twofold; work (I’m an Automotive CGI Artist) has been insanely busy this year meaning I have lost a lot of my weekends, secondly, some of the work I have been shooting has been for magazines so I couldn’t share it anyway. However, I am stoked to announce that I have now, for the first time (as far as I am aware) managed to get my work published in a magazine. It is in the Ace Cafe Yearbook which you can pick up here. Inside it celebrates all that is associated with Ace Cafe from events to music, to the culture and the people. It also includes some of my coverage from the Fueltopia Barrel Sprint. Here some of my favourites:

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SHOOTINGDAVE